A lot can be said for a man who introduces great coffee to a region of Sydney long untouched by inner-west coffee connoisseurs in favour of something a tad closer to the city’s art-filled laneways and beachside barista hangouts.
Frank Angilletta – who we believe to be an angel in disguise if his Italian last name isn’t enough – has successfully sculpted a café setup that suits the burgeoning southwest region of Sydney and become a mecca for Liverpool’s coffee-deprived residents.
Having grown up in the area, Angilletta says he “could see there wasn’t anywhere decent in Liverpool to get a cup of coffee.” And that’s how the idea for Ristretto & Co, his cosy Surry Hills-like terrace café that sits proudly next to St. Luke’s Church on Northumberland St, was born. He saw the opportunity, and like an angel, descended upon the narrow block of land with a plan to resurrect the area’s associations as a caffeine-dead-zone with that of abundant life.
Campos Coffee brewed to any bean-hunter’s top standards, every hot-drip beverage is a knockout. Flat white to foamy cappuccino, every cup is guaranteed to be a winner. And then there’s the rest of the drink menu – creamy hot chocolates, a T2 selection, and fresh orange juice, which we guarantee is 100% fresh – we witnessed a trolley load of the citrus fruit being delivered to the store room upon arrival.
Moving onto edibles, Ristretto is open for brekkie or lunch, but for anyone ready to take on the chef’s Italian cooking skills, lunchtime is where the menu has been weaved together from regions around Italia. There’s paninis and pastas of the day, traditional beef lasagne, pizza e toglio – and a vegetarian’s dream: bruschetta with grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers, Persian feta, rocket and pesto.
Despite the generous selection on offer after midday, breakfast is where the star players come out. From the simple, but sublime burnt fig and raisin toast to the extravagant bread boards layered with grilled truss tomatoes, poached eggs and a variety of meats or vegetables, there’s plenty to stress over when ordering. But the top dog is Angilletta’s favourite – “it would have to be our signature dish, the uovo in pomodoro,” which is free-range egg poached with chorizo, spinach & pomodoro sauce in a terracotta pot, served with toasted sourdough. The cost of this saucy monster? Less than $15.
Perhaps the greatest ensemble of coffee beans, Italian-esque delicacies and kitsch, mismatched furniture we’ve ever come across (you’ll also love the ferns dangling from the awning in the courtyard out back), guardian angel Angilletta has commenced construction on a second venture – and it’s almost finished.
Opening January 19 at 6am for the Monday rush, pop-up The Shed will bring new life to Bigge Park, servicing customers from the mega-sized Liverpool Hospital, TAFE and nearby transport interchange. “It’s a beautiful space on the grass,” Angilletta says. “The building is actually an old changing room that we’re fitting out.”
More of a tuckshop than hit Ristretto, the focus will be on easy meals and coffee. “But there’ll be sandwiches, salads and other produce made onsite at Ristretto and delivered daily,” he points out.
Regardless of the downsize to the amazing menu, The Shed will be a welcome addition to Liverpool’s café culture. Sitting on the grass, iced frappe in hand and munching on a grilled panini seems the perfect way to spend a lunch break, or heck – any time of day.
Being situated so close to the station, there’ll be no excuses from any inner-city coffee fiends not to pop by and revel in the new Liverpool that Angel-etta is helping create.